With rising interest rates, many Canadians are anxious about their mortgages.
Borrowers have various worries, such as managing higher rates and the possibility of keeping their homes. To eliminate these growing concerns, the Federal government has introduced the Canadian Mortgage Charter(CMC) to relieve the borrowers. In the Fall Economic Statement (FES), the government plans to create jobs, build houses, and make life cheaper. In the Mortgage Charter, the honourable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, outlined guidelines and expectations for lenders as interest rates continue to rise.
What does the Charter outline?
The Charter provides relief measures for Canadian borrowers to support them during increased interest rates by reducing their current financial stress. Under the Charter, lending institutions are expected to:
- Permit mortgage holders to have temporary extensions of the amortization period.
- To assist with mortgage relief efforts, eliminate any fees or expenses that borrowers would typically have to pay.
- To exempt borrowers from another stress test while renewing or switching lenders during renewal.
- Mortgage lenders must notify homeowners of their alternatives four to six months before a mortgage renewal.
- Vulnerable homeowners could make “lump sum payments” without incurring prepayment penalties to prevent a negative amortization or the sale of their primary residence.
- When mortgage relief measures cannot cover the entire interest, lenders cannot charge additional interest on the unpaid amount.
Does Canada’s Mortgage Charter have legal status?
No, the system has no intentions to introduce legislation declaring the Canadian Mortgage Charter in law. The Department of Finance has stated that the best way to think of the Charter is as a set of guidelines and expectations for lending institutions to work with mortgage borrowers.
Who is a vulnerable borrower?
A vulnerable borrower is an individual facing challenges or risks when dealing with loans or other financial issues. It could be due to various reasons like having a low income, having a limited understanding of financial matters, or facing unexpected circumstances like job loss or health issues. They might find it harder to repay loans or be more exposed to high-interest rates. Recognizing and supporting vulnerable borrowers is crucial to ensure they get fair treatment, are not taken advantage of, and have the proper support to make sound financial choices.
Some important commitments for the mortgage industry made in the new budget 2023-24
- Adding C$1 billion to the Affordable Housing Fund for the next three years, starting in 2025-26. This investment aims to empower non-profit, co-op, and public housing providers, facilitating the construction of over 7,000 new homes by 2028.
- Committing an extra C$15 billion into new loans starting in 2025-26 for the Apartment Construction Loan Program. This makes the total funding more than C$40 billion. It’ll help build over 30,000 homes, making more than 101,000 new homes by 2031-32.
- They plan to allocate C$50 million over three years, beginning in 2024-25, to assist local authorities in enforcing restrictions on short-term rentals.
- Unemployment has stayed at record lows for 21 months, surpassing previous rates.
- More than a million additional Canadians have jobs now compared to pre-pandemic times.
- Wages have consistently outpaced inflation for the last nine months.
- The International Monetary Fund predicts Canada will lead the G7 in terms of economic growth next year.
- According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD), Canada ranked third globally for foreign direct investment in the first half of this year and the highest amongst the G7 per capita.
The Bottom Line
In the face of rising interest rates, Canada’s Mortgage Charter provides a ray of hope for borrowers, building the foundation for a more stable and encouraging future. The outlined guidelines, from extensions to fee waivers and exemptions, aim to ease financial burdens and safeguard homes. While not legally binding, this Charter sets a vital standard for lender-borrower interactions. The 2023-24 budget commitments promise significant strides, creating over 100,000 new homes and strengthening affordable housing initiatives. These measures solidify Canada’s commitment to a thriving housing market and a prosperous tomorrow.